Cecile Richards is stepping down as executive director of Supermajority and handing the reins of the progressive women’s political mobilization organization to a young, Black woman currently serving as the group’s managing director of politics and organizing.
Effective January 1, Amanda Brown Lierman will replace Richards, who co-founded Supermajority in 2019, the group announced Tuesday. Lierman, 35, was previously the Democratic National Committee’s political and organizing director during the 2018 midterms and is a former national political director for Rock the Vote. She joined Supermajority before last year’s launch.
Supermajority is a membership-based women’s activism group aimed at training and organizing advocates across age, race and background to push for women’s equity. Richards, a former director of Planned Parenthood and a veteran voice in progressive activism, will remain a Supermajority board member.
The transition comes amid a national reckoning on race that has also intersected with gender, raising longstanding questions among White women and women of color about allyship and solidarity.
In an exclusive joint interview with The 19th, Richards called Lierman’s rise “the logical thing to do at this time in our history.”
“You cannot have a women’s movement if you are not addressing racial issues in this country,” Richards said. “It’s time for White women of a certain age to make space, to move aside, to pay it forward. That is what organizing is … if you’re not being additive and trying to make your circles wider and wider, then you’re really just reorganizing the same folks over and over again.”
Lierman, who met Richards shortly before joining Supermajority, said she considers Richards a friend and mentor, and values the “trust and authenticity” of their relationship.
“This vision that she had for Supermajority, it was always about building a multiracial coalition of women and proving we could do that,” Lierman said of Richards. “I’m really excited to figure out what else we’re capable of doing together, which takes work, which takes honest conversations and which takes a level of trust that you have to build with people over time, which is what I think real organizing is.”
Supermajority co-founders Ai-jen Poo and Alicia Garza also praised Lierman as a leader ready to take Supermajority to the next level.
“Under Cecile’s leadership, Supermajority has grown from an idea to a true force in the movement for gender equity,” said Poo. “Amanda is the perfect person to lead the next phase of growth … with the vision and experience to ensure the organization can win real change and flourish in the process.”
Garza called Richards one of her “organizing heroes” and described Lierman as a “calm, focused and steady leader” whose “vision, impact and leadership will be appreciated by many.”
Lierman said she plans to “bring her whole self” — as a Black woman, as a mother, as a young person — to the role and hopes to empower other women organizers.
“I feel that responsibility … to demonstrate what it means to be a leader … to continue to be a bit of a mirror that people can see themselves in us as a senior team,” she said.
Richards echoed the sentiment and said Lierman’s leadership has the potential to usher in a new era for women activists.
“There has to be a new model of how women can be engaged in progessive work and politics without having to be martyrs,” Richards said. “Just to say, you don’t have to do it the way I did it, you don’t have to do it the way a whole generation of women in the labor movement and others did is important because we need a generation of folks that are going to be in this for the long haul.”
Looking ahead, Lierman said she hopes to build on the community of more than a million members who have joined Supermajority and keep them engaged in holding the next administration accountable as President-elect Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and the 117th Congress take office in January.
“When I think about the future, it really is about a recommitment to building this multiracial community, to making sure that we are doing so in a way that is centering racial justice, centering economic justice, the things that we know have plagued our country far before the pandemic,” Lierman said, adding that she believes the Biden-Harris administration presents “an incredible opportunity” to work on issues that align with the priorities of Supermajority’s membership.
“That, to me, will be our next test. We need to cash in on what we have built up, we have worked for, we have organized for, and now we have voted for,” she said. “People have seen that we have the political power, and it’s about what we do with it in this moment.”